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Jurassic Park
by yo go re

If there's one thing Capitalists hate above all else, it's when somebody else is making money they think they could have been making instead. Coca-Cola doesn't sell Dasani (and sixty-goddamn-six other brands of bottled water) because they love water so much, they sell it because if they don't, someone else will, and then those people would get one monies instead of Coca-Cola getting one monies. Can you imagine?! The audacity of not letting Coke make all the money! How dare they?! Anyway, Creative Beast Studio runs a couple of really successful Kickstarters, and suddenly Mattel decides they need to make articulated Jurassic Park dinosaur toys with no play features.

Having fallen ill from eating West Indian lilac, the triceratops - Dr. Alan Grant's favorite childhood dinosaur - makes an enormous mark on the Jurassic Park tour.

Yeah, the Monoclonius was nice and all, but I really wanted the king of dinosaurs, the thunder lizard itself, Triceratops! [I question your understanding of Latin --ed.] And while I couldn't afford the Beasts of the Mesozoic trike for $140, here comes Mattel's "Hammond Collection," dropping one for just 20 bucks.

Now, clearly a mass market toy from the second-biggest toy company in the world isn't going to be as intricate and "crafted with love" as an indie Kickstarted project that costs literally seven times as much, but that doesn't mean this one isn't good. Just like everyone having to start copying McFarlane Toys' homework in the mid-90s, Mattel has had to up their dinosaur game to compete with what Creative Beast gave us. The level of detailing on the triceratops' skin - the pebbly texture with a few larger warts and bumps, the subtle wrinkles around the joints, the way it appears to sag naturally under gravity - is truly a thing of beauty, and would have been unthinkable just two movies ago. Like, I still love my little Stegoceratops, but it absolutely looks like a toy next to this model. Even the "deluxe" Indoraptor didn't look as good as this, and that was just one movie ago!

The first triceratops fossil ever identified was just the two brow horns attached to a bit of skull, which is why the finder, George Lyman Cannon, thought they belonged to some weird bison. The horns on this toy point nearly straight forward, with only a little spread. Her nose horn raises up smoothly above her beak, and there are bony spikes all along the rim of her frill. Once upon a time, it some might have cheaped out on the texture on the back of the neck plate, but not this toy!

As good as all that is, you knew eventually we'd have to see some differences between this dino and the quality of the Beasts of the Mesozoic. For instance, the proportions on Mattel's seem narrower than they should be, giving her a too thin profile when viewed from the front. Plus, the legs all stick straight down, rather than having the front ones splay and bend slightly as they should. You could argue that that was true to the scientific consensus at the time the first movie was made, but since we never saw a triceratops do anything other than lay on its side and breathe heavily, is there really any excuse for not allowing her to stand like that?

On that note, Mattel's articulation is another place the toy comes up short. Oh, it's very good articulation, certainly the best any Jurassic Park toy has had, but that doesn't mean it measures up to Mesozoic toys. We get a balljointed head and two balljoints in the tail, swivel/hinges for the feet and knees/elbows, and the hips/shoulders may be balljoints as well, but if so, they only retain the range of a swivel/​hinge, so you can't move her arms out far enough to the side for an accurate squat. There's no kind of joint in the torso anywhere, and the mouth doesn't open - again, an oversight, since "breathing heavily" is kind of her key trait in the story. The tail is packaged separately in the box and will need to be plugged in, but don't expect to get it apart again without a struggle.

Jurassic Park's dinosaurs were mostly dark, drab colors, but just because there were no vibrant colors to worry about, it doesn't mean the paint here is bad. The triceratops is a muddy brown, but there are redder highlights and bluer shadows painted on, giving a sense of depth and variety, and the belly is lighter than the top. The bony parts are light tan, with the three horns given additional apps to make them look a bit dirty. Her eyes are orange with thin black pupils.

The Hammond Collection is 1:18 scale, meaning it's mainly re-releases of the 4" figures we already had with some new interchangeable parts, but the dinosaurs in the line are all about screen-accuracy: no battle damage, no "JP" logo stamped on, just the best dinosaur toys you can buy in a store. It may not be as good a toy as Creative Beast could give us, but it also doesn't cost a quarter of a rent payment to get and you can just walk into a store and get it off the shelf. For a mass market collectible, this tricera is tops!

-- 09/04/22

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